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Teen Movie Critic



Roger Davidson

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Akira Kurosawa spent nearly a decade trying to get this film off the ground. Only thanks to George Lucas and Francis Coppola's financial backing was Kurosawa able to make this stunning prelude to his masterpiece Ran. The story takes place in 16th-century Japan, where a ferocious power struggle is taking place between the all-powerful warlord Shingen Takeda (Tatsuya Nakadai) and two rival clans.

When Nakadai is shot by an enemy sniper, his dying wish is to have his death kept a secret for three years and that a double be put in his place. This is to keep his clan from falling apart and being destroyed by their enemies. In his place is put a thief (again wonderfully played by Nakadai), who has been his leader's Kagemusha (or "shadow warrior") for some time. The thief goes to great lengths to play the part, and dodges the threat of his discovery time and time again.

Only a man like Kurosawa could make such an elegant, poetic film such as this. Nakadai is no less than outstanding, adding subtle difference in his dual role as the noble warlord and the crafty thief. The usual Kurosawa battle scenes are as well-choreographed as ever, thanks to the colorful, imaginative cinematography of Kazuo Miyagawa. This and Ran are two films that need to be seen back-to-back, to experience the pleasure of watching a master at work.

My Rating = Four Stars

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